Tag Archives: won

Review of Out of the Ice, by Ann Turner

I won a paperback copy of Ann Turner‘s Out of the Ice through Goodreads.

Description:

When environmental scientist Laura Alvarado is sent to a remote Antarctic island to report on an abandoned whaling station, she begins to uncover more than she could ever imagine.

Despite new life thriving in the icy wilderness, the whaling station is brimming with awful reminders of its bloody, violent past, and Laura is disturbed by evidence of recent human interference. Rules have been broken, and the protected wildlife is behaving strangely.

On a diving expedition, Laura is separated from her colleague. She emerges into an ice cave where, through the blue shadows, she is shocked to see an anguished figure, crying for help.

But in this freezing, lonely landscape there are ghosts everywhere, and Laura begins to sense that her own eyes cannot be trusted. Is her mind playing tricks? Has she been in the ice too long?

Back at base, Laura’s questions about the whaling station go unanswered, blocked by unhelpful scientists, unused to questions from an outsider. And Laura just can’t shake what happened in the ice cave.

Piecing together a past and present of cruelty and vulnerability that can be traced all around the globe, from Norway, to Nantucket, Europe and Antarctica, Laura will stop at nothing to unearth the truth. As she sees the dark side of endeavour and human nature, she also discovers a legacy of love, hope and the meaning of family. If only Laura can find her way…

Out of the ice.

Review:

I don’t use star ratings on this blog. But I do cross-post to Goodreads, and there I rated this book 2 stars. Let me say early on that my low rating is a reflection of the fact that I did not like the book, not necessarily that it’s a poorly written book. I suppose you could say that it’s a subjective, rather than objecting rating.

The issue was largely that, despite the stunning descriptions of nature, the book didn’t hold my attention. I was bored a lot of the time and I found Laura’s thoughts repetitive. Then, with about 100 pages to go, I set the book aside and read three other ones before forcing myself back to finish it. The problem was that in addition to the things I listed above, it became obvious that the hinted mystery was going to be a pedophilia ring and I both didn’t want to face reading it and felt horribly disappointed that Turner chose such an over-used, tritely salacious climax. All in all, I’m just glad to be finished with it.

Review of Spring, by Karl Ove Knausgaard

I won an ARC of Karl One Knausgaard‘s Spring.

Description from Goodreads:

Today is Wednesday the thirteenth of April 2016, it is twelve minutes to eleven, and I have just finished writing this book for you. What happened that summer nearly three years ago, and its repercussions, are long since over.

Sometimes it hurts to live, but there is always something to live for.

Spring follows a father and his newborn daughter through one day in April, from sunrise to sunset. A day filled with everyday routine, the beginnings of life and its light, but also its deep struggles and its darkness.

Review:

Generally lovely. It wonders a bit (as I’m told Knausgaard is known for), I had a certain nagging sense that this should have been his wife’s story to tell, not his, and narratives where people paint themselves too well are always a little suspect. But as a book written by a father to his newly born daughter (a fourth child), it is very sweet. There is real love apparent here. In a world saturated with stories of toxic masculinity it was a real pleasure to read about a father valuing his children and family. Despite not reading the previous books in the series (and my copy anomalously missing the 8 pages between 102-111) I followed this without issue and would be happy to read more.

Review of Land on Fire: The New Reality of Wildfire in the West, by Gary Ferguson

I won an ARC of Land on Fire, by Gary Ferguson, quite some time ago. It’s languished on my shelf ever since. But I finally read it.

Description from Goodreads:

Wildfire season is burning longer and hotter, affecting more and more people, especially in the west. Land on Fire explores the fascinating science behind this phenomenon and the ongoing research to find a solution. This gripping narrative details how years of fire suppression and chronic drought have combined to make the situation so dire. Award-winning nature writer Gary Ferguson brings to life the extraordinary efforts of those responsible for fighting wildfires, and deftly explains how nature reacts in the aftermath of flames. Dramatic photographs reveal the terror and beauty of fire, as well as the staggering effect it has on the landscape.

Review:

I thought this was a pretty informative introduction to fighting modern forest fires. I certainly learned a lot that I didn’t previously know; but I think the book is best suited to people like me. If you had any substantial knowledge going in, I don’t know that it would add much. I wouldn’t call this a research text.

I appreciated that Ferguson didn’t refer to all his hypothetical fire fighters as male (it’s the little things that make a difference sometimes) and the book is quite readable, with a lot of pictures to help visualize the subject matter. Further, while I expected the answer to the posed question of ‘Why are fires getting bigger, hotter and more frequent?’ to be ‘climate change,’ it was a lot more nuanced than I expected (even if climate change was a large part of it). 

I did notice that a lot of the quotes are from the same few people, much of the researched cited comes from the same few institutions (there apparently aren’t a lot funded to study fire), and there are fairly few citations (less than 10 for most chapters and many of those from online). So, it felt like the knowledge pool tapped was fairly shallow. But again, for an introduction to the subject, intended for lay people, I think it’s worth picking up.